Andrew Nicholson has got his latest attempt to win his first Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials title off to a fine start with a dressage score of 37.8pen. A smooth and consistent test on his top ride Nereo sees him head the leaderboard by a 3.4pen margin at the end of the first day of dressage.

Andrew said: “I think it’s probably the best test he’s done. I can be quite bold on him and can ride for max in the extended and medium work. Today it felt like it flowed more smoothly than previously and luckily the judges seemed to agree.”

Fellow New Zealand rider Jock Paget is currently in second with his former Badminton winner, Clifton Promise, on 41.2pen. Both Andrew and Jock have their second horses, Calico Joe and Clifton Lush, still to come tomorrow.

Jock said: “I really liked this test. I think it was better than our test two years ago [when they won]; more correct, supple and relaxed. I had a great time on him. He’s a professional; he enjoys it and tries his best.”

The competition’s youngest rider, Germany’s 20-year-old Niklas Bschorer rode the test of the day on Tom Tom Go 3 to sit in third overnight on 42.1pen. Described by H&H dressage columnist Anna Ross as “the best test of the day”, the bold and accurate performance put Niklas in a competitive position at this early stage.

Niklas said: “The atmosphere is quite unique in there and it’s very special to be competing here. I was very pleased, he did a brilliant test.”

Flora Harris is the highest placed British rider in fourth with the quirky but attractive 11-year-old mare, Amazing VIII. This elegant partnership scored 43.6pen, with the judges rewarding their quality work which was performed in an attractive uphill frame.

Kiwi legend Mark Todd is fifth with Leonidas II on a score on 45.8 while four British ladies (Pippa Funnell, Laura Collett, Nicola Wilson and Mary King respectively) take the next four positions. Australia’s Christopher Burton completes the top 10 on TS Jamaimo.

Anna summed up the day’s action: “It’s rare for the dressage leader at the end of the two days to come from the first group, but this could well be the case this time. We saw some top-class performances today.”

Review today’s play-by-play dressage action

View the full leaderboard

See riders’ reaction about the cross-country course